Latest Press Releases/Speeches

Record of Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday, 22 November 2018

(2018-11-22) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Bismillah IrRehman Nir Rahim,

Assalaam-o-Alaikum,

At the invitation of the Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Prime Minister of Pakistan undertook an official Visit to Malaysia from 20-21 November 2018. During the visit, the Prime Minister Imran Khan was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Perdana Square, Prime Minister's Office, Putrajaya by the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The two Prime Ministers held bilateral and delegation level meetings in which in-depth discussions were held in a warm and cordial atmosphere covering a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Prime Minister congratulated the Prime Minister of Malaysia on his electoral victory and commended the smooth and peaceful transition of power from the previous government.

The two leaders welcomed the establishment of Bilateral Consultation mechanism between the senior officials of both Ministries of Foreign Affairs as the mechanism to intensify engagements between both sides. They also reaffirmed their support for holding regular discussions to strengthen bilateral economic ties, expand trade and investment, create favourable conditions for commerce and business in both countries, particularly in palm oil, agricultural products, food retail, halal products, automotive parts, energy, science and technology, and telecommunication. The Prime Minister of Malaysia committed to assist Pakistan in addressing its energy shortfall. In this regard, the Prime Minister welcomed Malaysia's cooperation in LNG and other energy sectors including hydroelectric and renewable resources.

The Malaysian side took note of the massive counter-terrorism efforts that Pakistan has successfully undertaken in an effort to eliminate terrorism.

Prime Minister Imran Khan briefed Prime Minister Tun Mahathir on the grave human rights situation in Kashmir and in this regard referred to the Reports of UNOHCHR, Amnesty International, International People's Tribunal and All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group, UK. He also discussed the role of OIC Contact Group on Kashmir to highlight the issue.

Both leaders witnessed the signing of the Partial Visa Abolishment Agreement (PVAA) which will reinforce the positive momentum in the bilateral relationship by broadening contact at the officials' level between the two countries.

On the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, Prime Minister Imran Khan paid an official visit to the United Arab Emirates on 18 November 2018.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, and Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The Prime Minister was received by His Highness Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan and accorded a ceremonial reception at the Presidential Palace, which was followed by delegation level talks. In Dubai, the Prime Minister was received by His Highness Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

This was the second visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the UAE in as many months. The visit underscored the strength and substance of the Pakistan-UAE special relationship, which is based on the spirit of mutual affection and deep trust, and rooted in age old civilizational, religious, cultural and commercial affinities.

The Prime Minister extended an invitation to H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to visit Pakistan on mutually convenient dates which he has happily accepted.

Now some highlights from Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where Indian atrocities and savagery against innocent Kashmiris continue unabated.

Indian occupation forces, during the so-called search and cordon operations martyred seven Kashmiris including Prominent Hurriyet leader and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat district President Hafeezullah Mir, YawarWani, Basarat Ahmad Neegro, Mehrajud Din Najar, Abid Nazir Chopan and Anam-ul-Haq in Islamabad and Shopian districts of the Indian occupied territory.

Pakistan condemns in the strongest terms the brutal assassination of a Kashmiri leader Hafizullah Mir and the continuing Indian atrocities in Io Jammu and Kashmir, including the killings of 3 Kashmiris and injuring at least 8 others, among them 3 minor girls on 20 November 2018. We also condemn the farcical, concocted and fabricated bunch of lies in the form of Indian NIA charge sheet against Asiya Andrabi. Continuing Indian attempts to label the legitimate struggle for self-determination as terrorism has failed and will continue to do so in the future. The incarceration of Kashmiri leaders on baseless charges violates the human rights charter and makes mockery of Indian claims to be the so called "world's largest democracy". India needs to accept the reality of its failure to try and label every Kashmiri, irrespective of gender & age from women to old men and children as a terrorist/militant.

We appreciate the statement of the OIC Secretary General conveying firm support of the OIC to the Kashmiris and once again call for the establishment of COI recommended by the OHCHR.

On 16 November 2018, the 9th meeting of the annual Pakistan - European Union Joint Commission was held in Islamabad which was preceded by meetings on trade; development cooperation; democracy, governance, the rule of law and human Rights from 13-15 November 2018. The Joint Commission provided an opportunity to exchange views on the priorities of the newly-elected government and to discuss ongoing and future cooperation in areas such as peace and security, migration, trade, human rights, development, energy, climate, education, governance and regional connectivity.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi represented Pakistan at the Sir Bani Yas Forum. The Forum, attended by both current and former Foreign Ministers from many countries deliberated upon the regional situation in Middle East and the issues confronting the region at large. Foreign Minister Qureshi presented Pakistan's view of the current situation in the Middle East. On the sidelines, the Foreign Minster met the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayad Alnahiyan where bilateral cooperation and regional issues of mutual interest were discussed. The Foreign Minister met his Norwegian counterpart, Ms. Ine Eriksen Soreide, Recognizing the positive developments in bilateral relations; the two Foreign Ministers stressed upon the need to further promote bilateral relations in all areas of mutual interest, including political, economic, trade and investment, education, culture and parliamentary exchanges.

The Foreign Minister invited Norwegian companies to invest in Pakistan in renewable energy, water and waste management, fisheries, and ports and shipping, emulating the successful business model of Telenor in the country. Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide invited the Foreign Minister Qureshi to visit Norway.

This Ministry and our Missions abroad have remained actively engaged for the welfare of our nationals abroad, especially those requiring assistance. Our Embassy in Kuwait remained engaged in helping the Pakistani passengers stranded in Kuwait, as a result of suspension of air operations in Kuwait City on 16 November 2018. The transiting passengers were accorded all sorts of assistance possible by the officers and staff of the Embassy. Our Ambassador personally intervened in the matter, pressing upon the Head of operations of Kuwait Airlines to accommodate our nationals on priority. As a result of these efforts all stranded passengers were finally flown home, safely, the next day i.e. on 17 November.

I would like to express profound condolences to the family and friends of our brilliant student Mr. Usama Ahmad Khan, a student of Shenyang Jianzhu University, Shenyang City, Liaoning Province, who passed away in China. Our Mission in China completed the procedures of the transportation of the dead body from Shenyang City to Beijing and from Beijing to Islamabad, within minimum time period.

At this juncture I would like to mention that a free, vibrant and responsible media is quintessential to the work that we do. However, curbing the spread of fake news and videos, the latest instance being the video allegedly of Mr. Usama Ahmed Khan, is our shared responsibility. A credible media with objective reporting is what we all believe in and aspire to achieve.

Now the floor is open for questions:

Question

After the brutal murder of SP Tahir Dawar in Afghanistan, is there any Joint Investigation Team formed from Pakistan and Afghanistan to conduct inquiry into the murder of the deceased police officer? (Ms. Rashida Sial - Aab Tak)

Answer

We strongly condemn the killing of SP Tahir Dawar. The entire episode of the discovery of Tahir Dawar's dead body in Afghanistan till its handing over to Pakistani authorities is really painful for us. Afghanistan has not shared any information with us yet. We hope that Afghan authorities will carry out the investigations and keep us abreast of the developments. We are also investigating the matter at our end.

Question

Sir, two very short questions - First of all, although Pakistan has taken a very strong position on the remarks and diatribe of President Trump, yet the response given by Pakistan contains two elements; One, Pakistan took the credit of wiping out and annihilating Al Qaeda and secondly we mentioned that the operation to take out OBL could not have been possible without intelligence sharing from our side. What do you have to say about this?

My second question is that Prime Minister Imran Khan is undertaking foreign visits far and wide. However, he has not visited our neighbors like Afghanistan, Iran and India to reinvigorate relations with them. Your comments please? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Daily Asaas Publication)

Supplementary Question

After the statement of President Trump, the response made by the Pakistani aide suggests that Pakistan intelligence agencies played a role in the capture of OBL. If that was the case, what will Pakistan do next with regards to the matter of Dr. Shakeel Afridi? (Mr. Haider Sherazi - G-TV)

When OBL operation was launched Pakistan protested stating that our sovereignty had been breached and now we have stated that we cooperated in the matter. Were we right then or are we correct now? (Bashir Chaudhry - 24 News)

Answer

The leadership of Pakistan has taken a strong exception to these unsubstantiated remarks. The Prime Minister tweeted about this on Monday evening. The Foreign Minister also made a statement, setting the record straight. Foreign Secretary called in the US Cd'A in her office. A detailed press release was issued by the Ministry on Tuesday. It has been a matter of record that Pakistan extended intelligence cooperation to the US which resulted in the killing/capturing of scores of high value Al-Qaeda leaders.

Regarding your second question, please note that Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Afghanistan. Other such visits are also in the offing.

Regarding your question on OBL, it has been a matter of record that Pakistan has extended intelligence cooperation to the US which resulted in the killing/ capturing of scores of high value Al Qaeda leaders.

Question

Do you consider that successful foreign visits of the Prime Minister enabled us to give a strong response to IMF and President Trump, since we have not seen such strong statements in the past? Do you also think that India has paid heed to such statements from the Prime Minister and the lowering of tensions on the Line of Control is the direct result of it? (Mr. Zahid Farooq - Daily Metro Watch)

Answer

The Prime Minister has undertaken a number of visits to friendly countries which as you pointed out have been highly successful. The tensions on the Line of Control, however, have not subsided to the best of my knowledge.

Question

Sir, what is your response to the recent statements made by the Indian Army Chief?

My second question relates to President Trump. We have seen that as soon as President Trump makes a statement, another statement from the American State Department is issued which is apparently opposite to what the President of USA has said. Do you consider this as double standards on part of USA or do you consider President Trump to have inherent biases against Pakistan? (Khawaja Nayyar - Daily Kashmir Post)

Answer

I will take your second question first. Our Prime Minister has already spoken on the matter. We stand by the position taken by him.

On your first question, we have seen that such belligerent statements are repeatedly made from across our Eastern border. However, we maintain that restrain, wisdom and prior thinking is required which we do not see from the Indian side. I would like to once again underscore that any restrain on our part must not be misconstrued as a sign of weakness.

Question

After US Special Representative on Afghanistan Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad undertook a visit to the region, during a press conference in Kabul, he has expressed optimism that a peace deal will be achieved soon. What are your comments on this? Also, have the dates for the US Special Representative's visit to Pakistan been finalized? (Mr. Jaleel - VoA)

Answer

We are aware of direct contacts between the US and the Taliban. It is a welcome development as we have long been insisting that the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan lies in a politically negotiated peace settlement. We are pleased that others are also arriving at the same conclusion. During his visit to Pakistan, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad had held detailed discussions with us on Afghan peace process. Regarding the dates, I mentioned earlier as well that dates are being finalized through diplomatic channels. They shall be announced when finalized.

Question

Mr. Hamid Nihal Ansari is an Indian national who is being held in Pakistan on the charges of espionage. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment, which according to information shared by the Peshawar High Court, is completing on 14th December 2018. Will he be deported after completion of his sentence?

Secondly, to what extent Pakistan relations with the US have been affected by the tweets of President Trump? (Mr. Adeel Warriach - Dunya TV)

Answer

The question pertains to the Ministry of Interior. You may please refer to it.

I have already answered the second part of your question.

Question

Pakistan is one of the members of Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS). India deliberately has not invited Pakistan to the celebrations of 10 years of IONS held recently. Do you consider this as an attempt by the Indian side to further propagate their mantra regarding Pakistan's isolation in the region? (Mr. Asim Ali Rana - ARY News)

Answer

You may get details of IONS from the Ministry of Defence. I will stress that non-extension of invitation to a multilateral event to any member is in violation of inter-state conduct and the basic norms of diplomacy. Such actions serve no constructive purpose, are petty in nature and only vitiate an already tense environment.

Question

Recently, a domicile allegedly belonging to Ajmal Kasab has surfaced in India. According to this document, it has been established that Ajmal Kasab is an Indian national and not a Pakistani. What are your comments on that? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui - DAWN News)

Supplementary Questions

With regards to the domicile of Ajmal Kasab, his paternal and maternal details have also been made available along with the domicile. Pakistan has repeatedly asked India for evidence related to Mumbai attacks. Considering the surfacing of this new evidence, will Pakistan take this as evidence that Mumbai attacks were a pre-planned drama orchestrated by India? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak - Diplomatic Mail)

In the matter related to Ajmal Kasab, India harmed Pakistan's cause in the international community. Now that this new evidence has surfaced, will Pakistan counter the narrative built by India? (Mr. Majid Jarral - News One)

Answer

We have seen reports, which appeared in the Indian press, regarding issuance of a certificate of domicile, dated 21 October 2018, to one, Ajmal Kasab, in Bidhoona Tehsil in Auraiya district of the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. Happenings such as these lend further credence to the concerns already raised by several quarters in this context. Our Prime Minister had proposed a meeting of both Foreign Ministers at the sidelines of the UNGA to evolve a way forward to discuss all outstanding issues. This included terrorism about which Pakistan has its own specific concerns including that emanating from India, as is evident by the confession of Commandar Jadhav and other information. However, this was peremptorily cancelled by India on baseless pretexts.

Question

Reportedly, Chief Minister of Indian Punjab, Captain Amrindar Singh has accused Pakistan's intelligence agency to be behind the Amritsar Attack. Your comments please?

Secondly, reportedly Times of India has published a news story alleging that Pakistan Evacuee Trust Board has welcomed the Sikh pilgrims with banners having pro-Khalistan slogans. What are your comments on that? (Mr. Anas Malick - WION TV)

Answer

Pakistan categorically rejects these baseless allegations. India is a habitual alleger and it has become its second nature to blame Pakistan for any negative development, without blinking an eye. The purpose of such smear and unfounded allegations by the Indian authorities is to cover up India's own failures, externalize its internal problems and drag Pakistan into its domestic political fray during the election season. Pakistan is confident that this malicious propaganda would be able to mislead neither the international community nor the discerning people in India itself.

Regarding your second question, the administrative control of Sikh Holy places like Gurdawara is with the Sikh community. We do not interfere in their internal matters. As far as Indian allegations are concerned, I have already stated that India is a habitual alleger and I will not dignify such preposterous allegations with a response.

Question

My question relates to Pakistan's mediatory role in Yemen crisis? Recently, UN Special Envoy has announced talks in Sweden between Houthi rebels and Republic of Yemen's government. Will Pakistan support the UN efforts or it will continue to take the same trajectory which it has offered to the Yemeni rebels and the Yemeni government? (Mr. Faisal Raza Khan - 92 News)

Supplementary Questions

With regards to Pakistan mediation in Yemen, has Pakistan received any response to the offer of mediation made by it from Saudi Arabia and Yemen? (Mr. Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

Yemen mediation is a very sensitive issue. I cannot comment on the matter at this point in time.

Question

Reportedly, Israeli forces during a search operation in Palestinian territories have martyred and arrested many Palestinians. What is your reaction on these atrocities perpetrated by the Israeli forces? (Mr. Majid Jarral - News One)

Answer

Pakistan has stood by the Palestine cause for the past seven decades. Our position on Palestinian issue is very clear. As in the past we will continue to stand with the Palestinians against the atrocities carried out by Israeli forces which are similar in nature to what is being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. We have been raising our voice against this injustice and will continue to do so.

Question

Men from Gilgit-Baltistan region have been complaining about their wives of Chinese origin being retained by the Chinese authorities. Your comments please! (Mr. Naveed Yousuf - Associated Press)

Supplementary Question

I have supplementary question on the matter of detention of Chinese wives of men from Gilgit-Baltistan. BBC has done a series of reports on the matter indicating that such detentions were arbitrarily made on charges of offering prayers by the men from Gilgit-Baltistan. Will Pakistan take up the matter with China or will it stay silent on it within the context of CPEC? (Mr. Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

We remain engaged with the Chinese side on the matter and it will be resolved amicably.

Question

There are news coming out of Washington that the Americans have withheld aid of US dollars 2 billion to Pakistan. Is this the same aid which was withheld in January this year or is it a fresh embargo on Pakistan? (Mr. Amjad Ali - PTV)

Answer

To the best of my knowledge, there is no new action by the US.

Question

We have heard that the Pakistan Football Team has recently visited Al-Aqsa Mosque. Is this correct? (Mr. Haider Sherazi - G-TV)

Answer

I don't have information on this question. I will check and get back to you.

Question

Reportedly, 1200 Pakistanis are in jails in the UAE. What is our Embassy doing for those incarcerated in prisons? (Khawaja Hamza - Media Today)

Answer

Our Embassy is actively pursuing the matter of Pakistanis serving their jail sentences. You all know that there are hundreds and thousands of Pakistanis currently residing in the UAE. I will get further details from our Embassy and revert.

Question

India has offered 4 points to the Hurriyat leaders for the dialogue. What are your comments on that? India has also threatened that Pakistan must stop meddling in the internal affairs of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, otherwise, the consequences will be disastrous. What are your comments? (Mr. Rashid Bhatti - Kashmir Express)

Answer

I will take your second question first. We are not afraid of such threats. As far as your first question, India needs to show seriousness and sincerity in the dialogue process. Indeed, the Kashmiris, Pakistan and India are all stakeholders in the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute. It must be understood that it is the Kashmiris who have to decide on their fate, through the UN administered plebiscite, as per the United Nations Security Council Resolutions. India must seriously begin the dialogue process with Pakistan. Our Prime Minister's letter to his Indian counterpart contained a comprehensive roadmap and a plan on the way forward. India accepted the offer only to renege on their commitment the very next day. In this scenario, how can we move forward if India is continuously shying away from the dialogue process.

Question

Sikh Yatrees are coming to Pakistan from all over the world for their religious rituals. There was an offer made by Pakistan with regards to opening of a Corridor for Sikh pilgrims coming from India. What is the current status of that offer? (Khawaja Nayyar - Daily Kashmir Post)

Supplementary Questions

The Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh has just tweeted that the Indian government has decided to build and develop the Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Guru Nanak Kartarpur to the international border and that Pakistan should reciprocate on the matter. What are your comments on the matter? (Mr. Anas Malick - WION TV)

Sir, we have seen that Pakistan has always extended a hand of friendship to India, be it in the sphere of sports or to facilitate the Sikh or Hindu pilgrims to Pakistan. In this regard, I would like to ask, how many visas are issued by Pakistan to the Sikh Yatrees? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak - Diplomatic Mail)

Answer

We have issued 3838 visas to Sikh Yatrees from India. They are here and we welcome them.

We expressed our desire to discuss all matters with India. No person less than our Prime Minister wrote to the Indian Prime Minister expressing our desire to engage with India in all matters which included people to people contacts, religious tourism and all other matters that you refer to in your question. You are all aware of the Indian response. We, on our part, continue to make efforts but in the absence of positive response from the other side, the success of our efforts cannot be assured.

Regarding the first question on Kartarpur, we will share some good news with you shortly.

Question

Pakistan enjoys good relations with Saudi Arabia and the US. There is a cold war like situation between Saudi Arabia and US with regards to the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. What are your comments? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal - Public TV)

Answer

We do comment on matters between two sovereign nations.

Question

2018 is coming to an end. Is it expected that a Head of State level visit will take place before the end of this year. Previously, we heard that the Russian President and at one point the Russian Prime Minister was expected to visit Pakistan. What is the status of such a visit by Russian HOS to Pakistan? Which other Heads of State are expected to visit Pakistan this year?

Also, I would like to have your comment on the incident of firing on camps of Rohingaya Muslims. (Mr. Adnan Haider - Channel-5)

Answer

On Rohingaya Muslims, our position is very clear and I need not repeat it. We stand by Rohingaya Muslims.

Regarding your question about visits, we update you as and when they are scheduled. Details of such high profile visits cannot be shared in advance and are only made public once details are finalized. With the current government, having an active outreach and engagement policy, the rate of visits is high with both incoming and outgoing visits and we will update you on such visits as and when a final decision is reached.

With Russia, a major reach out has taken place. The process continues. Any further development, in this regard, will be share with the media accordingly.

Question

During the visit of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia, talks were held with regards to decreasing the fee for "Iqama". There is a lot of confusion in the Pakistan community in the Saudi Arabia on this issue. Is there any decision that has been reached on this matter? (Mr. Zahid Farooq - Daily Metro Watch)

Answer

Currently, discussions continue. We will update you soon.

Question

Sir you have repeatedly said that OBL was killed as a result of information shared by Pakistan. If that is the case, I would like to ask, will Pakistan withdraw the case against Dr. Shakeel Afridi? Under what charges was Dr. Afridi held if assistance was provided by the government for the killing of OBL? (Mr. Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

I have not said anything that you have alluded to in your question. Please refer to the statement that I have given on the matter.

Question

Last night, at a diplomatic reception, the Defence Attache of Bangladesh and the Ambassador of Bangladesh stated that their forces did a tremendous job in evicting the occupation forces in 1971. Further, there were many anti-Pakistan statements made during that reception. Do you think that such statements are against the diplomatic norms? (Ms. Rashida Sial - Aab Tak)

Answer

On Bangladesh, our position is very clear.

---------------